1st historical figures chosen for American Women Quarters program

Expect a change in your pocket change next year.

The United States Mint last month announced that poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou and NASA astronaut Sally Ride will be the first two women featured on the quarter as part of the American Women Quarters program.

Twenty women will be featured on quarters through 2025, with up to five women honored per year as a result of the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020.

“The Mint will issue circulating and numismatic quarter-dollar coins with reverse (tails) designs emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of a prominent American woman beginning in January 2022,” according to the United States Mint’s office.

The honored women will come from all fields including suffrage, civil rights, government, science, space and more. It is against the law to depict a living person on a coin design, so each of the women are historical figures and, according to law, will be depicted on the tail side of the coin since the head must remain similar to the likeness of George Washington.

The US Mint will oversee the design of the coins, but final approval will come from the secretary of the treasury.

PHOTO: A samples of the new quarter coming out in 2022 that on the tail side will show images of poet Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou was an esteemed poet and civil rights activist best known for her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Angelou’s career reached new heights after reading her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. She died in 2014 at 86 years old.

The US Mint has announced seven different reverse designs to honor Angelou’s contribution to American history. Each design includes a visual interpretation of Angelou’s autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” along with the inscription of her name.

The designs include a depiction of Angelou with a bird cage in one hand and a blackbird in another, a dove landing on an open book, as well as an ink quill fashioned to look like a bird.

PHOTO: A sample of the new quarter coming out in 2022 that on the tail side will show images of poet Maya Angelou.

Dr. Sally Ride was a NASA astronaut who in 1983 became the first American woman to fly into space. She was a trailblazer for NASA’s inclusion of more women in space and spent her career after NASA encouraging young girls to pursue science, engineering and STEM careers. Ride died in 2012 at 61 years old after struggling with pancreatic cancer.

Five different designs honor Ride’s successes not only in space but also as an educator.

PHOTO: A sample of the new quarter coming out in 2022 that on the tail side will show images of astronaut Sally Ride.

Each design features Dr. Ride or the Challenger, the shuttle she took on her first trip to space. Inscriptions on the coins include her name and the phrase “First woman in space.”

Angelou and Ride were chosen by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen after consulting with the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, the National Women’s History Museum and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus.

After final approval, the public can expect to see Angelou and Ride’s coins in January 2022.

The US Mint is expected to announce more women as a part of the American Women Quarters program in the coming months.

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